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A member of Netanyahu’s wartime cabinet threatened to resign, postponing a planned speech.


A key member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Israeli war cabinet has threatened to leave his post amid deep divisions over the Gaza war, postponing indefinitely a news conference scheduled for Saturday evening, citing “recent events.”

Earlier, Israeli authorities announced that four hostages who had been held in Gaza since October 7 had been rescued in a “complex” operation in central Gaza.

Centrist opposition leader Benny Gantz has said he will resign unless Netanyahu addresses his concerns about how the war ends and what happens after it. Netanyahu is under increasing pressure to end the conflict and come up with a detailed plan for how to govern the territories after the fighting ends. Last month, Gantz said he would resign by Saturday but has not yet said publicly whether he will follow through.

If he steps down, Netanyahu is unlikely to step down either. Gantz and his party are not part of the prime minister’s right-wing ruling coalition, which holds 64 of Israel’s 120 parliamentary seats.

However, as Israel has failed to completely defeat Hamas and bring home all the hostages held in Gaza, discontent in Israel is growing, and Gantz’s threat has once again exposed the cracks within the Israeli leadership.

Gantz joined a powerful wartime cabinet that made many decisions on the Gaza conflict, embodying unity in the crisis, after Hamas-led militants attacked Israel on Oct. 7. Gantz gained high status as a former Israeli chief of staff, former defense minister and popular opposition figure, who is seen as Netanyahu’s main political rival.

Critics say Netanyahu has failed to make good on the so-called “the next day— how Gaza will be governed and by whom after the fighting subsides. He rejected the Biden administration’s view that the Palestinian Authority, which governs parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, should help run Gaza in some form.

In addition, he refused to publicly accept a ceasefire proposal backed by Biden, which Israeli officials said was consistent with one approved by the wartime cabinet. Netanyahu sought to calm anger among far-right members of the ruling coalition by saying he would not agree to any deal to end the war without completely destroying Hamas’ military and governing capacity. Hamas also did not publicly support the proposal.

Like Netanyahu, Gantz has ruled out agreeing to an independent Palestinian state or handing over control of post-war Gaza to the Palestinian Authority, raising some questions about how far he and the prime minister differ ideologically.

But he was one of the most important voices pushing for a ceasefire. Analysts say his departure could embolden far-right ministers in Netanyahu’s coalition, led by Itamar Ben Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, who have threatened to overthrow the government if Netanyahu moves forward with the latest ceasefire proposal.

Gantz has been one of Netanyahu’s most conciliatory partners and has helped boost the government’s international credibility.

Gantz, a candidate to succeed Netanyahu if an election is held, said last month he would resign on Saturday unless the prime minister and the wartime cabinet reached an agreement on repatriating hostages, determining Gaza’s future governance, returning displaced Israelis and moving forward on normalizing ties with Saudi Arabia.

The death toll in Gaza has risen as the war continues amid divisions within the Israeli government over how to proceed. Israeli troops have returned to parts of central and northern Gaza to clear what they say is a resurgent Hamas insurgency there.

Protests by hostages’ families intensified in Israel as thousands of people fled bombings by the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah in northern Israel with little idea of ​​when they will be able to return home.

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